Max and Page are a mother and daughter con team. Max seduces wealthy men into marrying her, then Page seduces them into infidelity so Max can rake them over the divorce court coals. And then it's on to the next victim. Written by
Greg Bulmash <[email protected]>
A movie that proves that what you see is not necessarily what you get, as a mother/daughter team con one well-heeled member of the opposite sex after another, in `Heartbreakers,' directed by David Mirkin and starring Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Yes, the con is on, as mom takes em to the altar, daughter seduces em (getting caught in the act by mom, of course), and mom settles for a divorce and some big bucks. For the women, it's like having the goose that laid the golden egg, and all is going well; the bucks are rolling in and Cupid's path is being littered in their wake with the carnage of the men they've despoiled. Then Page (Hewitt), much to the chagrin of her mother, Angela (Weaver), decides it's time to strike out on her own and take down a score for herself. But as fate, luck, chance or what-have-you would have it, at that moment the IRA steps in and not only wipes out their bank account, but hands them a bill for back taxes that far and away exceeds the amount already confiscated. At that point, what's a girl to do, but find another mark. Only this time, it has to be one rich beyond their wildest dreams. And with that, the hunt is on.
An amusing, and at times hilarious comedy, the fact that it works as well as it does can be attributed to two things, by category: Weaver and Hewitt; and Ray Liotta and Jason Lee. For what the movie lacks in originality is made up for with the performances of the aforementioned four. As far as the women, such a pair of femmes fatales you've never seen; Hewitt has it and flaunts it, but she's still overshadowed by the gorgeous Weaver. Looks aside, however, what really makes it cook is their shared if-you-see-me-comin'-better-step-aside, take-no-prisoners attitude, a Mae West meets Kate Hepburn persona that gives their con its zing. Weaver plays it to the hilts, saucy, seductive and sharp as a tack. And not to be outdone by her co-star, Hewitt stays right there with her, by giving a performance that makes you believe that this is a young woman who could actually pull this stuff off. Together, their antics on screen are reminiscent of Lemmon and Curtis in `Some Like It Hot,' or Caine and Martin in `Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.' There's a refreshing lack of pretentiousness about them that really makes them fun to watch.
As for the guys, Liotta gives a sharp performance as Dean, a guy with a hard edge and a soft spot for Angela, and Lee does a notable turn as Jack, a regular guy who finds himself in the eye of Angela and Page's storm. Lee has an especially engaging screen presence, and some of the most memorable moments of the film are in the scenes he shares with Hewitt.
Last, but far from least, Gene Hackman scores some guffaws as billionaire tobacco magnate William Tensy. He gets a bit tongue-in-cheek with his character, who with his tobacco stained teeth and smoker's cough is at the same time hilarious and repulsive. When Angela demurs his attempted kiss, you'd swear you can smell his breath and the reek of smoke from his clothes. And you have to give Hackman credit for this one, because to play this role all vanity had to be stuffed in the closet for the duration.
The supporting cast includes Anne Bancroft (Barbara), Jeffrey Jones (Mr. Appel), Nora Dunn (Miss Madress), Julio Oscar Mechoso (Leo), Carrie Fisher (Mrs. Surpin), Ricky Jay (Dawson's Auctioneer) and Elya Baskin (Vladimir). Director Mirkin must be given credit for his imaginative approach to some fairly unoriginal material, and for making up for it's lack of substance by extracting some top performances from his actors. The real strength of `Heartbreakers,' however, is the fact that it never takes itself too seriously. If you look deep enough, you may find some insight into human nature, but for the most part this is a movie that was made with nothing but fun in mind. It's entertaining, there's some laughs and some nice moments, and it's easy on the eyes. If you let it, it's a movie that will let you off the hook for awhile and show you a good time. And for my money, that's not such a bad deal. I rate this one 7/10.
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